Chesterfield families urge Government not to go ahead with planned cut to Universal Credit

Chesterfield families have urged the Government not to cut Universal Credit.

Thursday, 26th August 2021, 3:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th August 2021, 3:31 pm

A group of around 80 people who rely on it travelled from the town to Bridlington on Wednesday to help create a giant ‘cancel the cut’ message in the sand.

The sand art was then washed away by the tide, representing the Universal Credit cut scheduled for September 30.

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This aerial picture shows the campaigners' message in the sand at Bridlington.

Universal Credit was introduced to merge six benefits into one payment.

In response to the pandemic, the Government introduced a £20 increase to payments – but this is due to end soon.

According to the charity Citizens Advice, the planned £20-a-week cut could drive 2.3 million people into debt.

The Bridlington protest was organised by Unite Community and the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centre, with support from Chesterfield food bank Gussie’s Kitchen and Chesterfield Borough Council’s Labour group.

Heather Blakey, Unite regional community co-ordinator, said: “The message to Chancellor Rishi Sunak is loud and clear from these families – ‘cancel the cut’.

“The £20 uplift also needs to be extended to those on legacy benefits.

“£20 may not seem a lot to the multi-millionaire Chancellor and his wealthy Tory colleagues.

“But for families across the UK it is a lifeline that in four weeks’ time will mean the difference between scraping by and going without.

“It certainly will not help the Government’s so-called levelling up agenda.

“As recently as this month, Mr Sunak vowed not to return to the austerity politics that have dominated Tory policies for the last decade.

“Carrying out this cut would be a clear indication that those vows mean nothing and that the Conservatives intend once again to declare war on the poor.”

A Government spokesperson said: “The temporary uplift to Universal Credit was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.

"Universal Credit will continue to provide a vital safety net and with record vacancies available, alongside the successful vaccination roll-out, it’s right that we now focus on our plan for jobs, helping claimants to increase their earnings by boosting their skills and getting into work, progressing in work or increasing their hours.”

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